“We could prove an athlete was clean with one test,” said Melendez.
It took a team to pursue the project. Melendez, the vice chair of clinical affairs for the Department of Anesthesiology at the CU School of Medicine, brought the motivation and focus to push the project forward within the university. Christians, the director of the laboratory, provided the toxicology expertise and research leadership to develop the required science for this new test.
One obstacle remained: To develop the test for commercial use would cost money. Melendez’s idea would have died on the vine were it not for a chance over-the-fence conversation.
“They just needed a little bit of capital.”
In the spring of 2010, Melendez ran into his neighbor and mentioned the idea. The neighbor, Blair Whitaker, was intrigued.
“They had one customer already—athletes,” said Whitaker. “They had the equipment they needed and smart people to put it to use. They just needed a little bit of capital.”
Whitaker, who describes himself as “not a scientist, not a doctor, just a business guy with a science background,” decided to bring his own money to the table. As an added bonus, this super-angel investor with an MBA from Dartmouth College also brought 30 years of experience as a venture capitalist, founder, consultant and business strategist for a wide range of companies. With Whitaker’s backing and energetic approach, the idea was beginning to come to life.
Galinkin divides his time between his duties at the lab, Children’s Hospital Colorado where he is an anesthesiologist, and the CU School of Medicine, where he is a professor of anesthesiology and pediatrics. As the project developed, he began to think beyond just testing athletes. It hit him that they could market the test to “a gigantic nationwide group.”
The group Galinkin had in mind was anyone in the greater medical population needing an economically priced and b
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